Ireland itinerary - first draft

Jul 22nd, 2006, 07:51 AM
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Ireland itinerary - first draft

I am in the very, very early stages of planning a trip to Ireland – 2 weeks, Sept 2007. We are in our late 30s, interested in great coastal scenery, ruins, quaint villages, good food, and not rushing it.

We will have 14 full days in Ireland, and I was thinking to fly in and out of Shannon, and split the time there this way:
3 days Connemara
1 day Cliffs of Moher, maybe short drive through the Burren
1 day Loop Head
3 days Dingle Peninsula, Slea Head
1 day Killarney NP, Mukross House (no Ring of Kerry drive)
2 says Beara Peninsula
1 day Mizen Peninsula
1 day Sheep Peninsula
1 day drive back to Shannon

Is this a good plan? Too ambitious? Too much driving? If so, what would you eliminate?
We would like to stay 2-3 nights in each place (if possible, no 1-night stays).

I wish we could squeeze in a day trip to the Aran Islands, but I don’t think that’s possible. Should we eliminate something else (what?) and add the Arans?

Any ideas appreciated, thanks a lot.
xyz99 is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 08:10 AM
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You could do the Cliffs of Moher and Loop Head in one day (2 days/1 night).

I think 2 nights would be sufficient for Dingle.

2 nights in Killarney if you plan to do the Gap of Dunloe, which I recommend. I liked Killarney -- a lot of people badmouth it because it is "too touristy." Lots to do in the area, and should not be too crowded in September.

You can do Beara, Mizen Head, and Sheep Head in 3 days, easy. Staying in Kenmare.

What's your plan on landing the first day (early morning)? Heading straight to Galway?

Last night in Bunratty?

You should easily be able to add a day to to take a trip out to the Aran Islands from Rossaveel or Doolin.
Budman is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 08:23 AM
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Budman is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:04 AM
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I would think that one of the days in Connemara, you could do the one of the Aran Islands (Inis Mor) from Rosseveal. The boats go regularly and are less weather dependent than those from Doolin. also the trip is not as long. Pony carts and minivans meet the boats right at the pier so you can get a good tour of the island. Also there is a bike rental place right at the peir if you want to do it that way.

I would suggest stopping at the cliffs of Moher and diving through the Burren on the way to Galway if that is to be your base for Connemara. We did that one trip and it was wonderful to be at the cliffs early in the day (our plane landed at 5:30 and we were on our way from Shannon by 6:30 am). That could give you an extra day in Connemara.

Do the Loop Head drive on the way to Dingle. Take the Shannon ferry and then down through Kerry to Dingle.

While in Dingle take a trip to the Blasket Islands. There is a boat from Dingle and one from Dunquin where you'll find the Blasket Center(which tells the story of these now uninhabited islands). The day we went out there was a highlight of one of my trips. Google Blasket if you want some info before you go.

Have fun!

teacher33 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Budman, teacher, thank you both.

First day, yes, probably go straight to Galway and crash there, walk around, go to bed early.
Last night in Bunratty? Probably. If we can take a day from somewhere else, and add it to for Cashel/Cahir, that would be great. So much to see, so little time…

Teacher33, you have some great suggestions, thanks for the Blasket tip (I google’ed it, looks awesome). Let me check the map, I’ll come back with more questions. Thanks again.

xyz99 is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 12:27 PM
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Just one thing about going out to the Blaskets. There's virtually nothing out there, so if you want to go and spend the entire day hiking, go for it. Bring your own food & water.

The boats that take you out there are run independently, and only hold about 12 people. You have to come/go with the boat company that transported you. It takes about 1/2 hour each way. We took the boat out of Dunquin, which was about 1/2 drive from Dingle.

Once you approach the island, the boat anchors our, and you take a little dingy into the boat ramp, 6 people at a time.

We only wanted to go there for a couple of hours, so we made arrangements and told them we wanted to come back on the 2pm boat.

So, we were on the pier at about 1:45. At 2pm, no boat. At 3pm the boat finally arrives, but now there are 20 people who want to go back at the same time, and the boat only holds 12 people by law. What a goat pull!!!

We got on that boat by hook/crook, but there were some p!$$ed off people who were left behind. Figure the minimum of an hour before the boat returns to get them.

When we got back to the mainland, they didn't seem to be in any hurry to go back to pick up the others who were waiting.

It was my impression that the tour company that operated out of Dingle Town seemed to have their act together, and had a nicer/faster boat since they had a greater distance to travel.

Hopefully you'll have a better experiences than we did should you decide to go.

Budman is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 11:20 AM
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Thanks for all this extra info. With no food/water there and with such a hard time to get on and off the island…I’m not sure we will venture there. It’s our first trip to Ireland, and there is so much we want to do and see, I guess the ‘maybes’ will have to wait for another trip.
Unless you think the Blaskets are something not to be missed?
xyz99 is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 12:20 PM
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Go to the visitor center for the Blaskets, and use the time that you would have spent getting to/from in a nice pub drinking some Guinness.
Budman is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 12:39 PM
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I think I'd like that much better - that's the kind of advice I needed
xyz99 is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 12:59 PM
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just back and had a great trip...visited many of the sights you are planning("trip report-ceol agus craic"...last trip report under- "just back from sunny ireland" and "sunny ireland-continued")

You are including many of my favorites that I wanted to share with my family on this 2nd trip that were well worth a return visit...

3 connemara-if you want quaint/scenic, I would not recommend galway...loved westport for our first night, scenic, easy to walk, good food and fun pubs. great drive thru doo lough valley to delphi, clifden (sky road) and back.
clifden would be ok, but 2 huge cranes in the middle of town kinda mess up the scenery, roundstone nice but not much night life , variety.

2-doolin...quaint, scenic areas, good food/pubs (or spend one night on aran island) or maybe ballyvaughan/looked nice

3-dingle...quaint, fun to walk/explore, great pubs and food ...could still do tour of gap out of killarney thru gap on jaunting cart, then boat thru lakes, then meet tour driver at ross castle returns you to killarney to car...then could go on to kenmare (or return to dingle)...if it is nice weather, very special day.

if you want to do horseback riding...easy from here(ventry, just outside of dingle), suggest go early morning so you can ride on the beach

dingle slea head = spectacular

3-kenmare...quaint, fun to walk/explore, great pubs and food

(dingle and kenmare remain my 2 favorite stays...perfect location to tour from, great scenic towns, lots of options for food / pubs / shopping / exploring)

drive from killarney thru park, past ladie's view and moll's gap to kenmare is very nice

beara pen. -don't miss healy pass

2-kinsale ...good food, pretty harbor, great sights in area

1-last day travel to bunratty via cashel...if you love ruins...a must see

this trip, by request of other family members, did bunratty and really enjoyed it...very well done, relaxing, interesting, enjoyed exploring the castle and the banquet was very entertaining (enjoyed some of the food, bread, soup, desser, mead, wine, and more wine)and entertainers fun...if go to late seating stop at mac's pub in the park for a farewell guinness...or if go to early seating, stop afterwards... the park shops/buildings are closed during banquets but you can still walk thru park to/from mac's pub to banquet. (I liked mac's pub much more that dirty nellie's)

note-I enjoyed westport, kenmare, and dingle, in 2 days each...if had 3 day would really have time to enjoy towns and surrounding sights
chip is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 09:08 PM
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xyz99, we just returned tonight from our first trip to Ireland. I will be posting my trip report soon. I like your idea of not rushing it.

Here is the itinerary we used and now that I am back, I can say we all found Ireland gorgeous but found the pace a bit rushed, as every place we left behind regretfully things we wanted to do:

Fly into shannon
1 night: Bunratty
3 nights: Dingle Peninsula
3 nights: County Clare (b&b in Ballyvaughan)
3 nights: Westport, County Mayo
2 nights: Bushmills (Northern Ireland)
2 nights: Hillsborough, (Northern Ireland)
1 night: Malahide
fly home from dublin

We used each of these places as a base from which to make day-trips. Like you, we wanted to see scenery, ruins, quaint villages, etc. Also pubs!

I agonized over what to include and what to leave out before we left...I could hardly bear leaving out Dublin and Rock of Cashel...But once we arrived in Ireland, I realized we loved all the places we we actually experiencing, and never wanted to leave them. The places we were "missing" had faded into ghosts, places we might see someday but which weren't "real" to us at the time. Does this make sense?

We hated to leave Dingle as after seeing the Blasket island visitor's center in Dingle everybody wanted to go over to the Great Blasket island but we didn't have time.

We hated to leave County Clare as although we had visited both the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren during our 3 night stay, County clare is such a wonderful area, we wanted to stay longer and explore more.

I think you see the idea of our basic pattern...We loved our trip but it was a bit too stressful, and for us, it would have been less stressful if we had gone even slower than we did. The drive from Westport to Bushmills was too far for one day for us (having to rush right by Sligo without even stopping for a visit!)

It's our first night home and I need to get some sleep. I'll start my trip report tomorrow as long as this heat wave doesn't fry my computer!
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2006, 09:12 AM
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Consider replacing your trip to the Blaskets with a trip to the Skelligs. I traveled with Joe Roddy and Son from Portmagee. This is an amazing trip, if you get the weather.

wojazz3 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2006, 06:40 PM
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Thanks for the input – I guess my main fear is not to rush this trip too much, while allowing us to see as much as possible.
You are saying that at times, you trip felt rushed – do you have any idea of an average number of miles you drove per day? With 2-3 nights in each place and day trips, I would’ve thought that was a nice pace…

To put this question into some perspective, one of our best vacations was in Nova Scotia, where we tried not to drive more than 100-150miles/day (not necessarily including the scenic drives) – that is, no more than 2 – 2.5 hrs drive between places/towns where we slept. We allowed the rest for scenic drives, stops to view the coast, spend time on deserted beaches, get lost, etc. We would like to do the same in Ireland.

So again, is this itinerary too rushed? Should I cut some more? I already cut a lot

Wojazz, Skelligs….I’ll look into that and come back with questions. Thanks
xyz99 is online now  
Jul 25th, 2006, 11:24 PM
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xyz99, I think it's a good idea to limit the number of miles you drive each day in Ireland. Roads are very narrow and tend to be curvy and you can't get anywhere very fast. Sometimes you are stuck behind a truck or there are sheep in the road.

You asked which drives were too much for us, and why I thought our itinerary was a bit too fast.

We drove from Westport, County Mayo to Bushmills, County Antrim via Sligo. It is 185 miles, and AA Roadwatch lists it as a 4 hour drive. However for us American tourists, with 2 complaining teens in the back seat having their hair blown all about, and no air conditioning in the car, during an Irish heat wave, it turned out to be a very stressful drive, and it took all day counting stops! Also we're not used to circles...we don't have circles here in southern California. And there we were trying to drive those circles in Ireland, where we aren't used to driving on the left. I can tell you that a drive listed on AA Roadwatch as 4 hours or longer is going to be stressful if you aren't used to driving conditions in Ireland.

Another stressful day was when we left Bushmills with our luggage and drove down the Antrim coast, stopped at Glenariff forest park for the waterfall hike, and then tried to take the inland route to Hillsborough to check into our next b&b. Mistake! The inland route was full of confusing circles, with no ocean in site to get our bearings. We arrived at our b&b in Hillsborough at 10:00 pm! I called our host to alert him of our late arrival. This day REALLY didn't go well.

Basically if you haven't driven in Ireland before, I would double those AA Roadwatch driving times, and then you will be fine!

If I had the trip to plan over, I would have left off the northern portion near the Giant's Causeway, as spectatular as it was, and added 1 night to Hillsborough and 1 night to Malahide. That would have made the trip less stressful. I also would have tested the car's air conditioning before leaving the lot!

Everyone says to leave time for discovering unexpected surprises in Ireland. But in order to do that, you have to settle in one place for 2 or 3 nights at a time, in my opinion.

The Burren isn't that impressive as a drive-through. But it is awesome if you park the car and get out and walk away from the other tourists. It is a silent mysterious place, with little flowers growing in the cracks. We loved it.

We wanted to see Loop Head but I was disappointed to discover even though it looks close on the map, it was too far to fit into our itinerary so we had to miss it.

When I was planning the trip I agonized over what I was leaving out. But when you get to Ireland, since you are doing your research, you will fall in love with the places you are at, and you won't want to leave them. There will be plenty to do near each place you stay.

Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 11:42 PM
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Hi xyz99,
So it looks like 3 nights Connemara, 1 night Burren, 3 nights Dingle, and almost 7 days in County Kerry? That doesn't sound too rushed to me as long as you're not moving from place to place each night.

The day trips you have planned, if you get tired of the driving (those peninsulas can be a lot of driving) you can just tailor it back a bit. I'd second Bill's suggestion of Skellig Michael. Skip one or two of the peninsulas, slow down a bit, and spend a day at an ancient monastery in the middle of the ocean.

Melissa5: welcome back! Looking forward to hearing the details. It's hard to imagine Californians feeling hot in Ireland!
rosetravels is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 07:24 PM
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Thanks for the input – I’ll stick to this plan for now, add the details (ok, some details) and see from there. My thoughts about driving through the peninsulas were the same as yours: if we get tired, we can just drive across and go back. Skellig Michael is another good idea…I read about it, but then I saw that people do not recommend for people with fear of heights (that would be me) – climbing steps without a handrail….I don’t know.

If you had to choose between Aran Islands and Skellig Michael, what would you pick? And why?

Melissa, thanks for the tip about stopping in the Burren and not only drive through it. Initially, it did not sound very attractive, but after reading your post, I think we would like it. And we’ll try to allow time for unexpected surprises
Looking forward for your trip report!
xyz99 is online now  
Jul 26th, 2006, 07:27 PM
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Pick between the two, I would chose the Aran Islands. There's a lot to see for a whole day on the Aran Islands, shopping, plus Pubs!!!
Budman is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 09:37 PM
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Sounds great xyz99.

If I had a serious fear of heights I would probably choose Aran Islands over Skellig Michael. The height of Skellig can be uncomfortable. I was fine on the stairs but a little uneasy on the top. It suddenly felt like a small mountain with just ocean in every direction. But it's truly remarkable to consider how it would have been to live there and odd to think how in touch they actually were with the rest of the world.

I do think your trip sounds great. We spent a week once in Kenmare and explored peninsula after peninsula. It doesn't get old.
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